Magic reaches for a bigger picture

Published June 25, 1998|Updated Sept. 13, 2005

The Magic, which struggled to be a .500 team last season, may again be one of the NBA's pip-squeaks next season, but at least it won't look like one.

Team officials were hellbent on that notion Wednesday, beefing up the undersize roster with two 6-foot-11 players _ Utah's Michael Doleac and UNLV's Keon Clark _ and 6-8 Matt Harpring of Georgia Tech with its three first-round picks in the NBA draft.

"When we would go into hotel lobbies, I used to think we were a college team rather than a pro team," Magic coach Chuck Daly said. "I wanted to get bigger, stronger and tougher, and I think we really did that."

With its pick at No. 42 in the second round, the Magic took 6-5 Arizona guard Miles Simon.

The addition of Doleac and Clark brings a welcome dose of youth to the Magic's frontcourt, where it has aging veterans Danny Schayes and Horace Grant, along with Derek Strong and Bo Outlaw.

"Obviously, I'm going to have to make a lot of adjustments from the college game," Doleac said, "but hopefully I can do that well."

Doleac and Clark also will probably force the Magic to make interesting decisions. The 39-year-old Schayes, who filled in nicely when the team traded center Rony Seikaly in February, is a free agent, as is Strong. General manager John Gabriel said the team conceivably could re-sign both, but it's not likely.

Gabriel also said he has had talks with other teams about dealing Doleac, Clark or Harpring, but "we're planning on them being here."

"We felt very fortunate to be able to grab the big players we did," Gabriel said.

Although similar in size and talent, Doleac and Clark are markedly different. Doleac, whom Daly called a "poor man's Bill Laimbeer" because he is a solid outside shooter for a big man, is the clean-cut type, a player who was good not only on the court (16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds a game as a senior) but in the classroom.

At Utah, where he led the Utes to the NCAA title game last season, he was an academic All-American. He plans to attend medical school after his NBA career.

University of Utah coach Rick Majerus, a TNT draft analyst, said of Doleac on Wednesday: "There are a lot better players in this draft, but I don't think there's a better kid. He represents the best in college athletics."

Clark had an unsettling collegiate career. After initially committing to Temple, he bounced around among three junior colleges, playing ball at two.

He transferred to UNLV as a junior and played a full season. His senior year, he was caught allowing an agent to pay for a spring break trip, then reportedly tested positive for marijuana, which got him an indefinite suspension from the team 10 games into the season.

He left the team soon after to prepare himself for the draft, but questions about his past have followed him. Magic officials are aware of his past troubles but saw too much potential to pass him up.

Magic vice president Julius Erving said he plans to work closely with Clark on his off-court conduct. "I think we can make him into a good citizen and one who will fit the organization's needs," Erving said.

Magic officials had no concerns about his talent. Though he was picked at No. 13, they raved about him even more than they did about Doleac, who went 12th.

That's because Clark is one of those rare big men who can work the entire floor. He has startling athletic ability, a sweet perimeter shot and quickness in the paint. He had modest numbers at UNLV (14.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks as a senior), but during his workout here recently, team officials practically drooled.

Daly called him a cross between Stacey Augmon and Outlaw. "Only bigger," Daly said.

Harpring was chosen to help improve the Magic's scoring, which ranked 27th out of 29 in the league last season.

Harpring, who was second in the ACC in scoring behind North Carolina's Antawn Jamison, averaged 21.6 points and 9.4 rebounds as a senior.

Top 15 picks

1. Clippers, Michael Olowokandi, C, Pacific

2. Grizzlies, Mike Bibby, G, Arizona

3. Nuggets, Raef LaFrentz, F, Kansas

4. Raptors, Antawn Jamison, F, UNC

5. Warriors, Vince Carter, G, UNC

6. Mavs, Robert Traylor, F, Michigan

7. Kings, Jason Williams, G, Florida

8. Sixers, Larry Hughes, G, St. Louis

9. Bucks, Dirk Nowitzki, C, Germany

10. Celtics, Paul Pierce, G-F, Kansas

11. Pistons, Bonzi Wells, G-F, Ball St.

12. Magic, Michael Doleac, C, Utah

13. Magic, Keon Clark, F, UNLV

14. Rockets, Michael Dickerson, G-F, Arizona

15. Magic, Matt Harpring, F, Georgia Tech